January 25, 2006

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iPhone it now
Get a superphone before June
By John “jaQ” Andrews  jandrews@hippopress.com

The biggest product announcement this month wasn’t at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

Apple’s iPhone is what geeks the world over have been waiting for: a single device that can store and play up to 8GB of your digital music; guide you with Google Maps; take 2-megapixel photos; and navigate the Web with a full HTML browser through your cellular connection or Wi-Fi. Its multi-touch widescreen LCD is pretty awesome, too, letting you scroll and flip through album art with a flick of the finger.

Just two problems: the cheap version with only 4GB of storage costs $499 with a two-year contract and it’s not available until June. What if you want — nay, need — such an awesome device now? Or you don’t want to pay that much, or don’t want to sign up with Cingular, Apple’s exclusive partner?

In general, what you’re looking for is a smartphone, or a phone crossed with a handheld computer. Here’s the closest thing to the iPhone each major cellular carrier has right now.

• Cingular 8525 ($399.99 with two-year contract) The screen is 2.8”, almost as big as the iPhone’s 3.5”, and it has a 2-megapixel camera with video and flash, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 and a sliding hardware keyboard. Only 51MB of usable memory for music and such, but you can swap out microSD cards for pretty much limitless storage. It runs Windows Mobile 5.0 and comes with Microsoft Office Mobile and a full HTML browser.

• Nextel BlackBerry 7520 ($319.99 with two-year contract) This thing has GPS, not just maps, but forget music or picture-taking. Nextel concentrates on the business market, and businesspeople don’t like all those bells and whistles, don’tcha know. You do get a QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth and walkie-talkie functionality, but no Wi-Fi or touchscreen.

• Sprint PCS Vision Smart Device PPC-6700 ($299.99 with two-year contract) Similar to Cingular’s offering with a 2.88” screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, sliding keyboard, Windows Mobile 5.0, Microsoft Office Mobile and a microSD slot. The camera’s only 1.3 megapixels, though.

• T-Mobile MDA ($249.99 with two-year contract) Pretty much the same as the Sprint phone, but with a little bit sleeker design and miniSD instead of microSD. Like the Sprint and Cingular phones, you can hook this baby up to a computer and use it as a wireless modem.

• U.S. Cellular BlackBerry 8703e ($329.95 with two-year contract) Againwith the BlackBerry you get GPS, but no camera or stunning music capabilities. The display on this one is a bit nicer than Nextel’s offering, but it’s still not touch-sensitive, and the backlit QWERTY keyboard and Bluetooth still leave no room for Wi-Fi.

• Verizon Wireless LG enV ($199.99 with two-year contract) The cheapest of the bunch, the enV has a 2-megapixel camera with flash and camcorder capability, microSD memory slot and a music and video player. It flips open to reveal the keyboard and screen, and you can subscribe to a turn-by-turn directions service. No Wi-Fi, though, just Bluetooth 1.2.


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10/26/2006 Computer to go
10/19/2006 Tech news roundup
10/12/2006 A different drummer
10/05/2006 Who needs TiVo?
09/28/2006 Disk drives without disks
09/21/2006 Movies, just click your mouse!
09/14/2006 Laptops for less
09/07/2006 GPS everywhere
08/31/2006 The printer dilemma
08/24/2006 A series of tubes
08/17/2006 More music, more places
08/10/2006 How big is your drive?
08/03/2006 It's a WiFi world
07/27/2006 Fancy a spot of memory?
07/20/2006 Under the sea
07/06/2006 eBaysic training
06/29/2006 You paid money for that?
06/22/2006 Processing ... processing ...
06/15/2006 C:\Run for the border
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05/25/2006 Geek phone home
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05/11/2006 How to host a site
05/04/2006 If they mated
04/27/2006 Apples to apples
04/20/2006 Flash uber-drives
04/13/2006 Web site, by you
04/06/2006 Ayyy, jaQ's right!
03/30/2006 Choose wirelessly
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03/09/2006 Take in the Vista
03/02/2006 Cheap moviemaking
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02/16/2006 Will you stamp your e-mail?
02/09/2006 War of the machines
02/02/2006 Faster than a speeding packet

01/26/2006 Free software made simple
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